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Stay well this winter with Ayurveda

  • 04 Jul, 2016
  • Written by Jacqueline Iles
Hi There, 

How is this winter affecting you? 

Winter can be many things to many people. 

Depending on your natural tendencies winter can either feel drying, or heavy and damp. 

Winter can be drying If you are naturally a quick, light and dry type of person then you will be more prone to the Vata energy increasing during winter. Vata is light, dry, erratic, quick and cold. In excess Vata creates dry skin, constipation and bloating or cramping, and feeling scattered. 

Both the cold air and sitting in heated rooms for hours can dry you creating dry or chapped skin and lips, constipation and dull looking skin. 

If you are feeling dry this winter here’s what can help…..

Stay hydrated We feel less thirsty in winter but we do not want to get dehydrated and suffer the consequences aka foggy head and constipation, dry skin. Keep a thermos of hot herbal tea with you and keep the fluids up. 

Oil those nostrils! Both excessively cold air and being in heated rooms will dry our your mucous membranes. Nostrils don’t like to be dry. They might even over compensate with producing more mucous to keep their insides moist. A few drop of oil in the ears will also help to protect the Eustachian tubes and sinuses from the cold.

Warm, moist, and cooked is your motto for winter foods. Eat lots of soups and stews so your food also provides moisture for your body. Add some warming and calming kitchen spices to your foods. Ginger, cumin, fennel and cardamon are perfect.   

Oil your body regularly  A few times a week, if not every day (!), spend a few minutes to rub oil all over the body. Make sure your room is warm and when possible sit quietly and breathe deeply for 5 minutes to calm the nervous system and allow the oil to soak in before having a shower. 

Long and deep sleepWinter, the time of long nights, is the perfect time to catch up on sleep and restore your energy reserves. Nourish your nervous system and build Ojas with more sleep. In Ayurveda, Ojas is the subtle essence of immunity and gives good and lasting energy.One of the best ways to build Ojas is to get enough sleep. So, early to bed to wake up feeling nourished! 

Or, Winter can be damp and heavy

If you like to go slow in the mornings, work methodically and have good stamina then it is more likely that you have a natural abundance of Kapha. 
Kapha's qualities are cold, damp, heavy and stable.  You may find these qualities increasing in your body and mind in winter. Too much of these qualities will create mucous, low appetite, sluggishness in body and mind or heavy kind of emotions. 

High Kapha can dampen the digestive fire leading to poorly digested foods and toxins (ama) accumulating in the body which unfortunately perpetuate the above scenarios.

What to do?……

Lots of snot? Do neti (nostril clearing) with warm water before oiling them. See how here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HEXYk4oqEM
I stock Rhino Horn Neti pots.  Made of recycled plastic and so ergonomic and effective. They are great!  Or you can find stainless steel or even copper ones on line or you could even try your local Indian Grocer.

Is your food too heavy??  If you have too much mucous it is time to look at what you are eating. Either you are eating too much food which is dampening your digestive fire. Or, you may be eating the wrong type of food for winter. Ease off the snacks and the heavier foods like meat, dairy, wheat and rye. 

And, if you really can't resist that ice cream or cheesecake (2 ultimate snot increasing foods!!) ….then for your body’s sake follow it up with hot water and ginger powder with a pinch of black pepper added for that extra kick! 

Move your body! Run, walk, dance, hit the yoga mat, ride or skip.  No matter how, just keep your lymphatics moving and stay warm at the same time. As winter can bring excess Kapha which equals feeling dull and heavy it is important to stay active.  

Spice up your life! Add plenty of warming and drying kitchen spices to your meals this winter. Ginger, black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne and even a little chilli! But, your single best friend for winter is Turmeric

Ayurveda has known of the therapeutic benefits of turmeric for thousands of years. Many scientific studies now recognise that turmeric has antibacterial, anti inflammatory ,anti fungal and immune boosting properties. Turmeric is bitter, astringent and pungent which is perfect for drying up the damp and coldness of Kapha and winter. A traditional way to consume turmeric is in warm milk. 

Ayurvedic Golden Milk                                                                  

Ingredients
1 cup of cows milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon fresh minced turmeric or 1/8tsp organic tumeric powder

 1/4tsp cardamom powder
A tiny pinch of black pepper (increases absorption of turmeric up to 2000%!!)       

Warm in a small saucepan until just boiling then turn off immediately. Pour into mug and allow to cool a little
Add raw honey (for kapha) or maple syrup or coconut sugar (for vata and pitta) to taste

If you have high Kapha or lots of mucous use almond milk instead of cows and add  ¼ tsp ginger powder
For vata and pitta eat a date whilst drinking golden milk.
Enjoy!

Kids usually love this drink with honey. But, another great way to get turmeric into them and support their immune system through winter is as a paste with honey.  The honey also has natural mucous drying properties.

Turmeric Honey Paste

1/2 cup raw honey
1/3 cup organic turmeric powder 
1/4 tsp of Trikatu (the Ayurvedic blend of black pepper, ginger and long pepper powders) 
Or instead of trikatu simply add 1/4 tsp ginger powder and 1/8 tsp black pepper powder
1-2 tsp of cinnamon powder adds a lovely and helpful taste!

Mix all ingredients into a paste and store in a glass jar.

Kids can have ¼ tsp at a time up to 4 times a day when there is snot to burn away or 1-2 times a day as a preventative when the weather is changing or school begins each term.

Another great way to get turmeric into kids is a treat of Turmeric Honey Popcorn!
Simply pop corn in a large pot with either good quality oil or ghee. Once popped, tip it out into a bowl, melt honey in the still warm pot, add popcorn back in and stir through a good amount of turmeric. Delicious!! 

Did you know that a common cold can result from an imbalance from any dosha? 

A kapha type of cold comes from eating too much, eating foods that are too heavy and damp and from and not moving your body enough. The excess of kapha’s cool, moist characteristics creates a congested or runny nose and lots of sneezing and mucous

A vata cold comes from being run down and possibly from catching a chill in the neck or lower back. Vata colds create exhaustion, a dry cough and possibly loss of voice and postnasal drip, and the chills.
A pitta cold often has an element of  infection with yellow-green mucus. There is usually high fever and a raw sore throat.  

Knowing the origins of your cold can lead you to be able to treat it more effectively with the correct opposite qualities. As well as the traditional and common sense ways of kicking a cold here are some specific ideas from an Ayurvedic point of view. 

Treat a Kapha type cold with warm spices like ginger and pepper. Stay warm but not completely idle. Some movement can help to shift the phlegm and feeling of heaviness. Food should be spicy, warm and light like soups and broths. The classic drink of warm lemon, ginger and honey is good and cinnamon can also be added. Garlic is great for Kapha. 

Treat a vata type of cold with plenty of rest and warm fluids. A few drops of sesame or olive oil can be put into the nose and wintergreen essential oil (only a drop or two) can also be mixed with a base oil to massage into the sinuses and even in the nostrils. Warming herbs like ginger and cinnamon are also god for the Vata cold but adding a soothing herb like licorice will make it more effective. 

A Pitta type cold responds well with some bitter and cooling herbs. especially ones that have antibacterial properties like golden seal.  Only small amounts of this herb need by used as it is very strong. Ghee and licorice can be used to sooth a sore throat. 

A traditional Ayurvedic preparation called Chyavanaprash is a wonderful tonic for the winter months. 
It's primary ingredient is Amla or Indian Gooseberry.  

Amla has the highest known levels of Vitamin C of any foods and it is heat stable too so none of it's rejuvenation and immune boosting qualities are lost in the preparation! 

I love Bio-Veda's Yogi Jam Chyavanaprah. It is the freshest I have ever tasted! 

or from my clinic. 

I hope these tips will help to keep you well this winter. 

In Health,
Jacq